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Why Does Jewelry Tarnish? Here’s How to Prevent It | Linjer Jewelry

Jewelry is one of the best ways to express your style, but sometimes, your go-to pieces need a little TLC to prevent them from tarnishing. Over time, some metal jewelry may tarnish if it isn’t regularly cleaned or cared for, causing your favorite piece to look cloudy and lose its lustre. Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent your jewelry from tarnishing.

What Is Tarnish and What Causes It?

Tarnish is a dull, discolored area on a piece of jewelry. It occurs when the metal reacts with oxygen and liquids such as perfumes or lotions. Tarnish forms a coating on your jewelry, making it appear discolored. While you can remove tarnish from most types of metals, it’s best to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Silver rings in travel jewelry case cognac

Discover Whether Your Favorite Metal Tarnishes

While your environment certainly plays a role in how quickly your jewelry will tarnish, some metals are more prone to tarnishing than others.

Flash-Plated Gold Jewelry

Flash-plated gold jewelry is crafted with a base metal, such as brass or copper, which has a thin layer of gold bonded to it with heat. Flash-plated jewelry consists of a very small amount of gold, usually less than 0.05%. While flash-plated jewelry isn’t likely to tarnish, the gold finish will wear away with time, revealing the color of the base metal underneath.

While this may make the jewelry look discolored, it’s not tarnished. However, once the gold layer rubs away from the jewelry, it’s permanent. Depending on how often flash-plated jewelry is worn and how it’s stored, it can last up to 5 years.

Gold Vermeil

Gold vermeil, also known as gold-plated silver, is formed by layering 14k or 18k gold over a sterling silver base. Because this metal is coated in gold, it’s unlikely for gold vermeil to tarnish — but if it does, gold vermeil tarnish is easily polished away.

Our gold vermeil jewelry takes significantly longer to tarnish and rub away its finish when compared to flash-plated jewelry from fast fashion brands. However, it’s important to store your pieces in a soft pouch and in a cool place to prevent scratches and tarnish.

White topaz ring and braid ring standing on white fabric

Solid Gold

Warm-toned and shiny, pure gold is a soft, precious metal that will not tarnish but can scratch. When gold is mixed with other metal alloys to create 10k, 14k, 18k, and 24k gold, it becomes more susceptible to tarnish. Higher gold alloys like 14k to 24k are the most unlikely to tarnish, while 10k gold jewelry may tarnish if worn daily.

To preserve your gold jewelry, keep it away from bleach and other cleaning products to prevent discoloration — and if it does tarnish, there are ways to remove it.

Sterling Silver

Made of 92.7% silver and 7.5% other metals, this precious metal alloy is a standard material in high-quality jewelry. When sterling silver is exposed to salty air, chlorine, humidity, and cosmetics, it may tarnish. However, there are many ways to prevent and remove tarnish on silver

Our sterling silver jewelry is plated in rhodium, a rare, precious metal that gives the piece extra shine, lustre, and durability — the rhodium provides a layer over the metal to help prevent tarnishing. 

Baroque pearl necklace in silver on neck

3 Tips to Prevent Your Jewelry from Tarnishing

Protect your favorite jewelry from tarnishing with these three tips:

  • Store your precious metals in a cool, dark place. Protect your jewelry from oxidation by storing it in a Ziploc baggie, jewelry box, or soft pouch.
  • Wipe your jewelry with a polishing cloth. For sterling silver or gold vermeil jewelry, frequently polish your pieces with a soft, polishing cloth. You can even wipe them down with mild dish soap and warm water to remove dirt or light tarnish. 
  • Keep your jewelry dry. Avoid wearing your jewelry in the shower, beach, or pool to protect it from moisture and chemicals that may cause tarnishing.
Gold vermeil rings and earrings in jewelry box

How to Clean Tarnished Silver & Gold Jewelry

Follow these easy steps to clean your jewelry at home and remove tarnish from your favorite pieces:

  1. Choose the right polish. For delicate gems and precious jewelry, you may use a nonabrasive polish. To clean gold vermeil or gold jewelry, you can use a mixture of gentle dish soap and warm water. And for your sterling silver jewelry, remove tarnish with a mixture of baking soda and water.
  2. Use a soft cloth if possible. A soft cloth will help prevent scratches and remove any dirt buildup around the edges of your jewelry. Dip the cloth in the polish or cleaning mixture and lightly rub your jewelry, then wash off the mixture. 
  3. Rinse and dry. After cleaning, rinse your jewelry again, and pat it dry before storing your jewelry — water can cause tarnishing!
Leo necklace with charm pendant laying on jewelry pouch

While tarnishing is common, you can protect your favorite jewelry with frequent cleanings, proper usage, and dry storage. Our jewelry is made with high-quality materials and thick plating to help protect your pieces from tarnish and ensure they will last for many years. Discover our collection of contemporary and timeless fine jewelry styles to wear from everyday moments to special occasions.

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